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Also known as Benign prostatic hypertrophy refers to the increase in size of the prostate in middle-aged and elderly men.
Persons most commonly affected: Men over 40 years of age.
Organ or part of body involved: Urinary Tract
Symptoms and indications: Frequent urination, inability to empty the bladder, involuntary urination, dysuria and strangury and even nocturia.
Causes and risk factors: The cause of BPH is not well understood. No definite information on risk factors exists. For centuries, it has been known that BPH occurs mainly in older men and that it doesn't develop in men whose testes were removed before puberty. For this reason, some researchers believe that factors related to aging and the testes may spur the development of BPH.
Throughout their lives, men produce both testosterone, an important male hormone, and small amounts of estrogen, a female hormone. As men age, the amount of active testosterone in the blood decreases, leaving a higher proportion of estrogen. Studies done on animals have suggested that BPH may occur because the higher amount of estrogen within the gland increases the activity of substances that promote cell growth.
Another theory focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a substance derived from testosterone in the prostate, which may help control its growth. Most animals lose their ability to produce DHT as they age. However, some research has indicated that even with a drop in the blood's testosterone level, older men continue to produce and accumulate high levels of DHT in the prostate. This accumulation of DHT may encourage the growth of cells. Scientists have also noted that men who do not produce DHT do not develop BPH.
Some researchers suggest that BPH may develop as a result of "instructions" given to cells early in life. According to this theory, BPH occurs because cells in one section of the gland follow these instructions and "reawaken" later in life. These "reawakened" cells then deliver signals to other cells in the gland, instructing them to grow or making them more sensitive to hormones that influence growth.
Prevention: Although you cannot prevent the prostate from enlarging, you can take measures to reduce your symptoms. Limit intake of liquids in the evening, especially drinks containing alcohol and caffeine. Cutting back helps to minimize the number of times you have to urinate during the night. (Also, drinking too much alcohol may irritate the bladder or prostate. Ask your doctor whether if you can change or eliminate mediations that may be aggravating the problem. These medications include antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, antispasmodics, tranquilizers and certain types of antidepressants. These can weaken the bladder muscle or narrow the opening of the prostate. Take every opportunity to use the bathroom and allow yourself enough time to empty your bladder completely.